Director of Content

Erika Taylor is the director of content for Professional Remodeler. Contact her at or 972.803.4014.

Look Up

It's rare to find lighting guidelines backed up by documented field testing

March 14, 2018

Doug Walter doesn’t come off as an industry hero, visionary, or any other term that denotes inspired and original thinking. Yet his research is a true gift to the remodeling industry. 

At the end of 2017, we looked at the 10 stories that received the most clicks on our website, and two of them were written by Doug. Both pieces covered his favorite topic, lighting, and one of them—an impassioned guide to better bathroom lighting design—was published back in 2015, but still gets huge engagement. 

One of Doug’s signature positions is his belief that most kitchens are woefully underlit. “Lighting is often an afterthought,” he says, “yet even when it’s carefully planned ... experts often don’t agree on which lamps work best in particular fixtures and where those fixtures should be located.” 

When I hold strong beliefs on a topic, I do what most of us do—sit around and talk about it. Doug on the other hand actually went out and proved his theories using clients’ kitchens as a testing lab. The result was a comprehensive look at how different sizes and configurations of recessed cans and undercabinet LEDs will change the light delivered to a work surface. 

This issue contains a follow-up story with new data including the different effects of PAR 30 vs BR 30 bulbs. It’s powerful, not only because of the material itself, but also because it’s rare to find guidelines on lighting practices that are backed by documented field testing. To that end, you can do your own testing. One of the big takeaways from the piece is that instead of lighting a space solely by eye, remodelers should check their assumptions using a light meter app available on any smart phone. 

Another interesting thing about Doug’s work lies not in the findings themselves, but in who is reading about them. A large percentage of the comments we receive about Doug’s articles come from homeowners planning a remodel. What’s notable to me is that these aren’t consumers obsessing over product selection, instead these are people who want a better understanding of how light changes the functionality of a space, and for whatever reason, they are not getting the information they need from local remodeling professionals. 

I know a lot of smart, ethical, and highly competent remodelers who don’t really understand lighting. When working on a project, maybe they take the word of a designer, (or worse, their electrician) or maybe they just wing it, but either way the results can be less than ideal.

If that’s you, I highly recommend you read what Doug has to say. The industry is lucky to have him, and we’re honored to publish his work.

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